Small churches face different dynamics and challenges than larger churches, but both can learn valuable lessons from each other.
We understand blind spots in the context of driving; areas around us where we can’t see what’s going on around us. The larger those blind spots are, the more dangerous they become. The same is true in leadership. John Maxwell defines a blind spot as “an area in the lives of people in which they continually do not see themselves or their situation realistically.”
The Entrepreneurial spirit is characterized by innovation and risk-taking. Entrepreneurs tend to be good at perceiving new business opportunities. They typically exhibit positive biases in their perception of possibilities and a pro-risk taking attitude.
In ministry terms, we could call the gift of the Apostle as entrepreneurial. They are the ground breakers, the pioneers, the ones willing to take the risks to go first. I think entrepreneurs think differently than most. They tend to have mindsets that are action oriented. They will jump in with both feet. Often they jump first and ask questions later. They also tend to be more welcoming of change. They love challenges and are often motivated by them. And they tend to recover more quickly from set-backs.
What Are You Focusing On?
Perseverance is key for any entrepreneurial endeavour. Quitters often pretend that people, things or situations outside of themselves are the blame for their entrepreneurial defeat. But it is the internal mind-set that stabilizes any entrepreneurial challenge.
When coaching emerging leaders I generally begin by focusing on what they are focusing on. I’m sure you have heard me say this over and over again, but what you focus on you give power to. So, if you focus on your past defeats, you will give power to that defeat and it will be very difficult to move on from it. But, if you focus on your future, then you will use your past defeats as stepping stones to your success. The only time we look at the past is to learn from it. Otherwise, don’t dwell there.
Self-doubt is a major distraction in the pursuit of any risky opportunity. Self-doubt becomes a major roadblock when an entrepreneurial leader is surrounded by average thinkers rather than forward thinkers. Sometimes you have to look at who you are spending the most time with. Are they adding to you or taking from you? If you realize that the people you are spending the most time with are draining you, you will have to make a conscious decision to spend more time with those who add to you. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to completely dismiss those draining you, it just means you need to change who you are letting into your inner circle. Make sure they are building you up!
Develop a Life Plan
John Maxwell says: “Great takes time. That’s why so many end up settling for good. It’s why so many hover around average.” You have to force yourself to constantly push to learn more. I would implore everyone to develop a personal growth plan. Determine what you need to grow in and then come up with a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly plan to invest in yourself in that area. For example, I knew I wanted to grow as a leader in order to one day pastor a mega-church. So, over the past 10 or so years, I have developed a daily plan to listen to leadership podcasts from some of the world’s best leaders and pastors. I weekly read a book. Monthly, I connect with a leader who has gone further than me, whom I can learn from. And yearly, I attend a conference at a mega-church somewhere in the world so that I can see and hear great leadership principles to apply to my life and ministry. So, to each leader listening, what is your personal growth plan? If you don’t have one, you aren’t growing at the rate you should be in order to reach your top potential.
I think a great place to start is by fast forwarding in your mind to your funeral. Ask yourself, “who will be there?” and “what do I want them to say about me?” This practice will give you a focus on your priorities, both in who is most important to you as well as what is most important to you. Next, write down a list of the people that come to mind and then ask yourself “what can I do daily, weekly, monthly, yearly to invest in those relationships?” Then write a list of priorities or goals — and for each one — ask the same question: what can I do daily, weekly, monthly, yearly to invest in growing in that area? And then take that list and apply it to your calendar. Remember you have to work, eat, and sleep, so make a realistic schedule. But, I have found that a little bit of investment each day goes a whole lot further than a big chunk of time or money invested on an inconsistent basis.
Avoid The Comparison Trap
While it’s important for a leader to gleam from the success of others without merely mimicking them, I believe it can be a great starting point for young leader to begin mimicking a successful leader. My answer might surprise some, but this way, you can learn all you can from them and over time begin to discover what works for you and what doesn’t work. I think we are so focused on being original that we miss learning best practices from the best. Like Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, “there is nothing new under the sun.” So, steal all you can from the greats and in the process be open to learning who you are and what works best for you. I know as a preacher, I have re-preached some of the greats messages that moved me. I was criticized for that, but I also learned over time how to deliver impacting messages and what resonates with people and what doesn’t. I feel this greatly helped me as a communicator in crafting and delivering my own sermons.
Develop A Healthy Growth Environment
We often speak about the power and importance of environments. It is important for a leader maintain a healthy growth environment. I love how John Maxwell defines a healthy growth environment.
“A healthy growth environment is one in which:
- Others are ahead of you;
- You are continually challenged;
- Your focus is forward;
- The atmosphere is affirming;
- You’re often out of your comfort zone;
- You wake up excited;
- Failure is not your enemy;
- Others are growing;
- People desire change;
- Growth is modelled and expected.”
Doesn’t that list sum it up well?
Of the 10 I have you found the most challenging to be number 7, “Failure is not your enemy”. It is much easier said than done and I still find it difficult to overcome failure. I hate losing more than I enjoy winning, so that one is definitely the toughest.
Use the P=40 to 70 Principle
I heard Colin Powell speak at a Leadership Summit Conference a number of years ago and he instructed leaders to use the formula P=40 to 70, in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired. Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, he said “go with your gut.” Don’t take action if you have only enough information to give you less that a 40% chance of being right, but don’t wait until you have enough facts to be 100% sure, because by then it is almost always too late. Today, excessive delays in the name of information-gathering breeds “analysis paralysis.” He was emphatic that “procrastination in the name of reducing risk actually increases risk.” I love that.
Practice Reflective and Dream Thinking
The obligatory whirlwind of a leader’s everyday life often suffocates their entrepreneurial aspirations. You need to find ways of keeping your everyday life full of the “fresh air” needed to nourish innovative ideas. Personally, I like to practice two very important types of thinking:
- reflective thinking
- dream thinking
I think it is absolutely necessary to block out time in your day or week to reflect on the day and ask yourself “what went right?” and “how can I repeat that tomorrow?” and “what went wrong?” and “how do I avoid making the same mistake again?” This is vital for “fresh air” thinking. The other is scheduling time to dream and to work on the organization rather than just working in the organization. I have a dream book that I like to write ideas in and it’s so much fun to go back into the book and see how so many of the ideas I wrote down months ago or even years ago have been implemented and put into play.
Enjoy the Journey
It matters how we show up everyday. Great leaders appear to show up as contributors, challengers and game changers. But the reality is everyday is a struggle of choices. Brendon Burchard encourages leaders to “honour the struggle”. John Maxwell says “trust the process”. I would add “enjoy the journey.” Many times as leaders we are so focused on the destination that we forget to enjoy the journey along the way. It’s an amazing privilege to lead other people and yes there are ups and downs, but it all about learning and growing and being better today than I was yesterday and enjoying the process.
Reaching our target audience with the Gospel of Jesus Christ requires daily discipline and initiative. But staying laser focused on bringing the hope that is Jesus to those who need him most and it never gets old for me to see lives being changed, marriages restored, families rebuilt. When you see hope come into someones eyes it makes is so worthwhile. So, it is worth the daily discipline and hard work. I just HAVE to reach more and have to keep going…because the church is the hope of the world and we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means with the Gospel of Jesus Christ by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.
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When we live long enough, we realize that the decisions we make one day can alter the course of our lives for the rest of our lives. Decisions like what field of study we pursue, the jobs we take, the relationships we decide to end….decisions, choices, move us forward or backward. Sometimes they cause us to remain stuck in life. We are a product of what we decide so how do you ensure you are making the best decisions as a leader?
Efficiency matters not only in the big picture but in the small day to day picture of leadership in every organization. While we covered a lot of territory last week, efficiency is such a huge and vital topic that I wanted to continue with it this week.